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Awakening To The Sacred August 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Meditation, Mindfulness.

In Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Spiritual Life, Lama Surya Das first examines Matters of the Spirit, touching upon common themes and questions at the heart of every spiritual path, including thoughts about faith, doubt, freedom, truth, love, compassion, and enlightenment.

In the remainder of the book, Surya Das offers a variety of spiritual practices for use by seekers of all backgrounds who wish to enhance their journey through life:  Meditation * Mindfulness * Spiritual Study * Yoga * Simplicity * Fasting * Prayer * Spiritual Readings * Journals * Chanting * Gardening * Breath * Haiku * Staying in the Moment.

At the outset, he reminds readers that awareness is the essential ingredient in a spiritual life:  the spiritual path is best walked step by step, very mindfully, with as much consciousness and commitment as one can summon.  He encourages seekers to incorporate daily practices to help get and keep them in touch with the essence of spirituality ~ peace, love, freedom and belonging.

As a Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Surya Das explains the teachings of Buddha throughout the book.  For example:

The Buddha’s teachings were concerned with finding the nirvanic peace and freedom of enlightenment, the end to all forms of suffering and delusion.   He saw these goals as being determined by the cause and effect of individual behavior without divine intervention. (p.23)

As a result of his Western upbringing, he addresses theistic religions with equal clarity and ease:

In all truly sacred traditions there is an essential resolve to cherish life and treat others ethically and kindly.  All these traditions encourage us to be open to divine presence, both within and without, and tell us to practice what we preach without hypocrisy or sleight of hand.  (p. 29)

Surya Das encourages us all to cultivate clear vision, as well as personal authenticity.  In other words, to see things as they are, and to be more fully who we are:

We practice Dharma when we stop clinging to our preconceived notions about what we should do and achieve.  We find truth when we learn to let go, accept, see things as they are, and just be.  We find truth by discovering our inner light, our inner value and values, our authenticity and genuineness.  This is living truly. (p. 114)

First there is enlightenment, when we start to see things as they are, and then, if we work at it, there is transformation, when we learn to live, embody, and stabilize those truths in our daily lives.

To experience either, you must stay awake and aware.

Surya Das emphasizes the need of all seekers to open their hearts and learn how to love unconditionally, without lust,  fantasy, or neediness ~ to love for the radiant joy of simply loving, without expecting a thing in return.  To increase our capacity for unconditional love we focus on its components:

(1) practicing forgiveness to free the heart and mind from excessive burdens so that we can experience this moment anew;

(2) practicing acceptance and understanding and seeing all beings as part of the whole;

(3) cherishing life by doing no harm, alleviating suffering, appreciating and valuing what we have, and generously giving to others;

(4) practicing compassion and empathy in order to open our hearts to the suffering of others;

(5) practicing warmth and kindness by being kinder, gentler, and more loving to those around us; and

(6) practicing joy by recognizing that life is a miracle to be celebrated.

When we are joyful and happy, we spontaneously share love with others.  We exude joy, kindness and warmth.  When our heart is singing, we lift the hearts of those around us:

The path of joy is the path of open-heartedness ~ the path of a heart filled with love.   So smile.  Make somebody happy.  Make yourself happy.  Learn to love.  Spread love.  Be love.  You’ll love it. (p. 151)

Written for anyone who wants to connect with the sacred, this book offers practical advice for incorporating the spiritual into our everyday lives.

May all peace, blessings, good fortune, and delight be yours.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Our essential nature, like the wateriness of water, does not change.  What changes is our capacity to share that essential nature with the world.


1. Don - August 3, 2014

Such a good run down on this book Nancy. It really sounds appealing.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

Thanks, Don. The quote from p. 114 echoes the comment you shared on Eric’s post about meaning:

“We practice Dharma when we stop clinging to our preconceived notions about what we should do and achieve. We find truth when we learn to let go, accept, see things as they are, and just be. We find truth by discovering our inner light, our inner value and values, our authenticity and genuineness. This is living truly.” (p. 114)

Here’s to allowing ourselves the freedom to Just Be. _/!\_

Don - August 3, 2014

Thanks for this Nancy. The words certainly do affirm what I feel. Beautifully put. 🙂

2. suzicate - August 3, 2014

Thank you for this, always up for new book recommendations.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

Except for one disgruntled reviewer on Amazon (who may not have been in the intended audience), the book seems to resonate with readers/seekers.

3. ashokbhatia - August 3, 2014

Thanks for this post. Namaste!

nrhatch - August 3, 2014


4. NancyTex - August 3, 2014

I may just be in the perfect headspace to read this book, NH. Thanks for the reco.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

What I enjoyed about the suggested practices is that we are encouraged to experiment with those that resonate while leaving the rest for a later date. Or never.

NancyTex - August 3, 2014


5. Jill Weatherholt - August 3, 2014

Sounds like a great book, Nancy…thanks for the review! Every one should try to increase their capacity for unconditional love.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

So much of what people call “love” isn’t really love at all.

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to our own. ~ Robert Heinlein

If we’re focused on THEM and adding to THEIR happiness, it’s probably LOVE. If we’re focused on wanting THEM to make US happy, it’s probably not. 😎

Val Boyko - August 3, 2014

Nancy – nice insight I’ll add to.
Love without attachment is called metta. This is loving kindness. We can gift this to others and ourselves.
A loving way of being.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

Thanks, Val. You’ve described it beautifully ~ when loving kindness becomes our way of being . . . bliss!

6. ericjbaker - August 3, 2014

I can think of a few 100 million people who need to think about their theistic practices in this light, since they seem to think they are authorised to speak and act on their deity’s behalf instead of following said deity’s example.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

Yes! And also those who believe “God” can only communicate with me via their intervention: “God wants me to tell you XYZ.”

“Objection, your honor. Hearsay! If God wants to speak to me, he should do so directly.”

Being God’s mouthpiece is a good gig if you can get it. 😎

7. bluebee - August 3, 2014

“He saw these goals as being determined by the cause and effect of individual behavior without divine intervention.” Therein lies a simple truth.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

I’m a cause and effect kind of gal too, BB. The choices I choose to make affect the outcome.

8. Val Boyko - August 3, 2014

You and Surya Das had me at “First there is enlightenment, when we start to see things as they are, and then, if we work at it, there is transformation, when we learn to live, embody, and stabilize those truths in our daily lives.”
Bringing this to the world … is our dharma.


nrhatch - August 3, 2014

Thanks, Val. As you’ve seen, transformation occurs in fits and starts ~ with the occasional “backslide” (causing us to land on our back side). To dharma!

9. Behind the Story - August 3, 2014

“When our heart is singing, we lift the hearts of those around us.” This morning I bought “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. My daughter and I spent many happy minutes listening to this catchy tune and watching people from all over the world dancing to it.

nrhatch - August 3, 2014

That’s a great song. I double dog dared readers not to smile while listening to it:


10. sufilight - August 3, 2014

This sounds like my type of book. It’s on my wish list. Have to control myself for now until I finish reading a couple of books I ordered from Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation!

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

Books are my weakest link, Marie ~> too many books, too little time. Based on the reviews I read, this is the type of book that many use for periodic reference . . . garnering it a dog-eared presence on the bookcase.

11. Pix Under the Oaks - August 3, 2014

Ok this book is going to be purchased and sit right next to Guide to Zen Living that you told me about. I read Zen Living each day and I believe this will be a good book for me too!

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

Good morning, Pix. I’m delighted that Zen Living has continued to resonate. I hope this one is a KEEPER for you too.

12. Silver in the Barn - August 4, 2014

I really needed to read this today, Nancy! Funny how that works, isn’t it? XXX

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

It’s great when the right thing pops onto our radar screen at just the right time.

Recently, we watched a movie that had been in our Netflix queue for ages. It arrived a day or two before my birthday. Popped it in on my birthday and grinned at the first scene ~> Kids playing at the beach and writing in the sand. When the camera panned out, the letters spelled:


Synchronicity is such a gift . . . even if it’s not our birthday.

Silver in the Barn - August 4, 2014

That’s a wonderful story, Nancy. It’s all around us, I think, if we just pay attention.

nrhatch - August 4, 2014

Thanks, Barbara. I agree. It pays to remain Awake and Aware.

13. Three Well Beings - August 7, 2014

I’m really glad you shared this book with us, Nancy. There are so many “out there” and not all have equal value, in my experience. I think I would really enjoy this one. Practicing joy–life really is a miracle. It only takes being around others who are struggling through health crises to remind me that life really is a miracle and each day is a gift. We spend a lot of time squandering that miracle with little complaints. I’m as guilty as anyone of that…but at a soul level I do know better. 🙂 Good book to add to my encouragements!

nrhatch - August 7, 2014

Yes! When we are not quite so wrapped up in ourselves, we see things with a bit more clarity. Today is a gift which I choose not to squander by whining about minutia. 😎

I find that books like this one do provide encouragement exactly when we need it.

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